Child’s Play

Since her husband’s murder two years earlier, life hasn’t been easy for Elle Harrison. Now, at the start of a new school year, the second grade teacher is determined to move on. She’s selling her house and delving into new experiences―like learning trapeze.

Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle’s school principal, who’d tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty’s former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.

Ty’s younger brother, Seth, is in Elle’s class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?

Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she’s the only adult he’s ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he’s been wrongly condemned. But when she’s assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?

Before Elle discovers the truth, she’s caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she’s forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.

Having a background in psychology and suffering through my own blackout related episodes post trauma I felt really connected to this book. It very much felt like Merry Jones accurately captured that kind of trauma in her main character including the frustration with people around you not understanding to the point of judging you or believing you about what you’re experiencing. The way she developed not only the main character but her friends showed a real understanding and compassion for this type of experience.

The only thing I had trouble with was how much wine the author had Elle constantly drinking because it had been mentioned she had seen a professional and been formally diagnosed for the blackouts. This means she would’ve been told to limit if not avoid alcohol which would exacerbate these episodes but that was never touched upon. Despite her friends knowing about these problems instead of them helping her to avoid alcohol they encouraged it but then would berate her later for drinking herself into oblivion.

This was such a fantastically twisted story I had to know how it would end especially because I had emphasized so much with Elle. By the time the truth was revealed I did NOT see that ending coming.

It was such a great thriller with bodies dropping left and right, it reminded me of those slasher films I become addicted to during every Halloween season. When I went to look up more information about the author I discovered this is actually the 3rd book in a series but it was so good I didn’t feel like I had missed out on anything by not reading the first two, it works as a stand-alone. I’m definitely going to look up those first two now to see if they’re as good as this one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Oceanview Publishing for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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